A “spam risk” tag on your caller ID can make it difficult for you to reach individuals or customers about important information. If your answer rate has suddenly plummeted, your phone number may have been flagged as spam. So, what can you do to get your caller ID to stop showing up as “scam likely”? To answer this question, it’s important to understand how phone numbers are flagged as spam in the first place.
Why is My Caller ID Showing “Scam Likely”?
The three main reasons why phone numbers are flagged as spam are:
- A call recipient reported your number. Call-blocking apps have made it very easy for call recipients to report phone numbers as “scam likely” or “spam risk”. Though this functionality can be useful against actual scammers, a lot of consumers will block legitimate phone numbers simply because they feel annoyed or don’t recognize your number. If enough individuals block or report your number as spam, these apps can tag you as spam or block your number altogether.
- Carriers flagged your number. The number one reason why phone numbers show up as “scam likely” is because of carrier spam ratings. In March of 2020, the Federal Communications Commision (FCC) mandated STIR/SHAKEN, which are a set of laws designed to reduce the number of harmful robocalls. Carriers use these laws to assign a spam rating to your number. Making too many outbound calls in a short period of time can cause carriers to flag your number as “spam risk”, which will show up each time you make a call.
- Your number was “spoofed”. Though it is less common, some phone numbers are tagged as spam because the number was “spoofed” by an actual scammer. Some con artists will fraudulently disguise their phone number as another to trick people into picking up or disclosing sensitive information. If your phone number was used fraudulently by a scammer, it was likely reported as spam – a problem that, unfortunately, you will have to face.
Some cell phone carriers also note any call as Spam Likely the first time a cell phone receives a call from a new number. Subsequent calls shouldn’t be marked as such unless one of the above items is the reason.
What is STIR/SHAKEN and How Does it Work?
Since carriers are the number one reason why phone numbers are tagged as spam, it’s important to understand how they determine the legitimacy of different callers. The main criteria that they use is based on STIR/SHAKEN, which are anti-robocalling legislation that requires carriers to give phone numbers a spam rating. So, what exactly is STIR/SHAKEN, and how does it work?
Secure Telephony Identity Revisited (STIR) is an Internet engineering task force that creates unique “tokens” for each phone number. These tokens act as a “digital signature” and are designed to authenticate each caller’s identity and legitimacy.
Secure Handling of Asserted Information Using Tokens (SHAKEN) is a set of rules that carriers are supposed to follow when authenticating callers using STIR. These protocols are intended to keep authentication standards the same across multiple carriers and reduce scams, spoofed numbers, or robocalls.
Carriers use STIR/SHAKEN to assign ratings to your phone number. An “A” rating indicates that your number is fully authenticated, but this can only be achieved through your own carrier. A “B” rating means that a number is partially authenticated, which is how other carriers may identify your number. Meanwhile, a “C” rating indicates that your phone number is likely spam. Many phone numbers get this rating by making too many outbound calls in a set period of time, which signals to carriers that you may be robocalling.
How to Avoid Being Tagged as “Scam Likely”
Though you don’t have total control over whether your calls are flagged as spam or blocked entirely, there are a few precautions you can take to protect your number. Here are just a few ways you can avoid being tagged as spam:
- Follow ethical calling guidelines.
- Swap outbound numbers throughout the day.
- Register your numbers with CNAM through your carrier.
- Monitor your numbers daily to detect problems early.
- Use Caller ID Reputation to scan numbers as you buy them.
How to Fix Your Caller ID Showing “Scam Likely”
Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick fix for your caller ID showing “scam likely”. If your number has been flagged as spam, you will need to prove your legitimacy to carriers or call-blocking apps, which can take some time. Here are some steps you can take to fix an incorrect spam tag:
- Make a claim with major carriers. Your first step in recovering your caller ID is to make a claim with major carriers. You can file a claim with Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint by filling out a form and providing spam feedback.
- File a spoof complaint with the FCC. If you suspect your phone number has been spoofed, you should file a complaint with the FCC as soon as possible. After filing a complaint, the FCC can help you recover your number and avoid falling victim to future fraudulent activities.
- Submit a request with call-blocking apps. Though each call-blocking app is different, some allow users to submit a request to be taken off of the “scam likely” list. Popular call-blocking apps to look into include Call Blocker – Blacklist, Mr. Number, Truecaller, and Calls Blacklist.
We also recommend registering your outbound caller ID numbers with the Free Caller Registry and First Orion, an organization that specializes in caller ID. Doing so will help build the validity of your number or numbers and increase your rating.
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